Even though the airlines are in business to transport people from one place to another, they could not function without the help of many people on the ground, including those who take reservations and sell tickets, as well as those who help keep the airplanes operating on schedule.
Reservation sales agents typically deal with the public through telephone inquiries. They answer calls on the only published telephone number available to the public. They handle inquiries about ticket fares, sales and bookings, flight schedules, seat availability and connecting flights, transporting animals, airline policies, government regulations, departure and arrival times, tours, car rentals, hotel accommodations, and reserve seats and cargo space for customers. Agents recommend services that fit each customer's requirements and must be familiar with routes and schedules of other airlines. They also handle any miscellaneous questions and needs that customers have.
The reservations sales agent operates computerized reservations equipment, keeps record of reservations.
Reservation sales agents are generally never seen by the traveling public and usually do not require a uniform. Sales centers are in operation 24 hours per day and thus offer a wide variety of work schedules. These positions may or may not be located near an airport, and most airlines have numerous centers located throughout the United States, and abroad.
Typical Requirements and/or Experience
Applicants must have graduated from high school and be at least 18 to 20 years of age, depending on the airline. Although airlines offer on-the-job training, one or two years of training in airline operations at schools offering such courses, or experience in public telephone contact work, is preferred. Accuracy and speed on the job are essential. Experience with computers and computer programs specifically geared to reservations is often required. At least one year of prior experience in public relations work, preferably in sales, is needed. College may be considered as a substitute for prior work experience. Air cargo reservations agents may need some experience in shipping operations.
Although reservation sales agents are generally never seen by the traveling public, strong communication and telephone skills are essential. A good telephone voice, proper English usage, and the ability to "project" oneself over the phone are necessary.
Applicants must be willing to work shifts.
Must hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.
It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.
Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:
All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;
Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;
All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;
Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.
Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.
Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.
EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Wages and Benefits
The typical starting salary range is approximately five to ten dollars per hour.
Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.
Opportunities for Advancement
A reservations sales agent may advance to training or supervisory positions. Supervisors monitor how other agents handle customers' inquiries. The handling of "executive accounts" and the accounts of firms with special "vacation packages" offered by the airline are jobs reserved for the more experienced and higher paid agents. The employee may transfer to a job of ticket agent. Reservations work is a principal route to a management position for the persistent worker since turnover, due to shift work, is high. Promotion opportunities are frequent.
To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.
What does a Reservations Agent do?
Makes reservations for passengers, explain rules and gives quotes and fares.
Why did you become a Reservations Agent?
For the flying benefits.
Would you encourage others to become involved? Why?
Yes, if you are interested in travel and people.
How does one prepare for this career?
(Training, certificate, degree, etc.) Have a customer service background, High School diploma.
What skills or abilities do you think someone should have before entering this field?
Customer service and computer experience.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Flying around the world (benefits) and meeting people.
What is the most frustrating thing about your job?
You do not always have a set schedule, and the pay.
What pleasant things happened that balance the stress of this job?
Company incentives, games prizes, and attendance coworkers.
How do you deal with the stress involved in working with angry airline passengers (suggestions for others)?
You just do it. Try not to let it bother you and do not take it personally.
How is math used on a daily basis?
Please provide an example. Most things are computerized but you do have to determine taxes on tickets.
What is the most unusual thing that has happened to you as a Reservations Agent?
Prank phone calls.
How is communication used daily? Can you provide an example of a problem with communication/listening and how you solved it?
Dealing with customers, coworkers, supervisors, and bulletin boards.
How are decisions part of your daily job? Please provide an example. How would a Reservations Agent make such a decision?
You have to know all the rules and policies before being able to handle any call.
What do you find rewarding about your job?
Benefits. Particularly the flight benefits.
What stereotypes or misconceptions exist about this field (and what is the truth behind them)?
People think we make things up (fares, $ etc.) restrictions.
Do you have a personal work philosophy that has driven you to accomplish what you have?
What advice would you give someone pursuing this field?
Always try to be flexible.
What future do you see with this field? (The Occupational Outlook Handbook suggests this field is overloaded with people. Do you agree? Why or why not?)
Yes. Everyone wants to fly for free.
What is the average starting pay for a Reservations Agent?
Around $10.00 per hour but it depends on the company.
Do you think the use of computers will help this field grow, or require fewer Reservations Agents?
Both. I think computers will help in the position but you will always need a human at the other end of the telephone to completely satisfy the customer.